She placed her elbows on the table and tilted her head slightly downward. I could see her starting to wipe the inner corners of her blue eyes, the corners where our tears tend to manifest.
For the past two hours, we had been catching up on life over the past several months, with minor flashbacks to the past few years. A lot had happened since our days together in high school, the days when we surprisingly didn’t share as intimate conversations. Now, we shared moments of laughter and seriousness, connecting in a new way. Sure enough, our conversation started taking the anticipated shift. You know, the shift to my recent “second coming out,” as I call it.
She had been around the initial coming out, six years ago that spread around my little conservative high school that I talk so much about. Back then it was the word that I was fighting my same-sex attractions, but now the story is different.
“It would be hard to feel that way and know that it is wrong,” she said.
“It eats at you.”
I told her how it would tinker with my friendships with my guy friends, keep me up at night, and make me think it would be better to not be alive. Don’t worry, never seriously and never suicidal, only that in the sense that I wouldn’t have to deal with it, and it would be gone. “A pastor at your church and I actually got coffee and talked about this not too long ago, but I had no idea what to say to him when he asked, ‘What has changed from your conservative background to where you are now?’”
“Yeah, what has changed?” she asked.
“Well, I know you’re not going to agree with me, and it probably won’t make sense but…” I shared my take on me and God, me and the Bible, and me and the church. As I shared more of my thoughts, her eyes began to tear up. I could feel her fighting herself, fighting her tears and fighting her comments. We’ve known each other since late elementary school, and I had faltered from our upbringing.
It was difficult for me to continue to talk, knowing that she didn’t agree with anything I said, but I wasn’t trying to persuade her. We made that clear from the get go. This wasn’t an argument. It wasn’t a debate. It was a reunion of two long-lived friends. I knew what she believed, and she knew she didn’t need to tell me. We were left with one another, with no ulterior motives. Just the other, opposed in belief but united in love.
Her presence was powerful, that she wanted to sit and hear what she didn’t belief. Something amazing is found in the mere presence of two individuals. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them,” we’re told. In this moment, God used her empathy painted across her face as an inspiring work of art. The beauty of what God’s work cannot be beaten. It makes us marvel in God’ presence, and until we slow down with one another, we cannot see the unique beauty of God’s design for relationship.
God tells her to be quiet,
him to speak up,
and them to stand.
It’s in “the other” that we see the universe that which is God, the incomprehensible character that we cannot see on our own. We make God so easily to be understood, and then, “the other” shows us this “new” beauty. Through a chipper laugh, or maybe a heartbreaking cry, God reveals more of God’s self, and until we come together, the relational character of God cannot be seen. Our part is to sit in the presence of one another and there discover the presence of God.